The Box Of Tricks (Tarantura TCD-68 / 1st Edition)
International Center, Honolulu, HI – September 6th, 1970
Introduction, Immigrant Song, Dazed And Confused, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown
The Box Of Tricks is the latest release of the Led Zeppelin Honolulu tape following many other releases including Holiday In Waikiki on Gold Standard, Tarantura’s namesake Box Of Tricks (Red Hot RH-023), Almost Son Of Blueberry Hill (Shout To The Top STTP 123), In Exotic “Honolulu” (Akashic AKA-24), and finally September VI (Empress Valley EVSD-486). The sound quality is very good and clear and Tarantura tried to cut down the hiss present on the Empress Valley release. The problem is that some of the top end is lost in the remastering and whereas the EV sounds very vibrant, the Tarantura sounds a bit restricted. What they gain in clarity they lose in dynamics. The bit of digital static found on September VI isn’t present on The Box Of Tricks, and the cut after “Heartbreaker” is smoother. This is labeled “1st Edition” on the artwork, so it can be assumed there will be a 2nd Edition. It is packaged in a single pocket cardboard sleeve and comes with a bonus booklet with various rare amateur photographs from the actual concert. Because this concert has seen many releases, there is nothing really gained with this release except the rare photographs. Regarding the concert, for the Empress Valley edition I wrote:
The mc gives an introduction to the band before they play “Immigrant Song”. Page doesn’t segue into “Heartbreaker” quick enough so John Paul Jones plays the beginning of “Dazed And Confused”. It is curious how the band follow his lead and plays the song for the next fifteen minutes. On other occasions they would stop just wait until they got back on track. “Dazed And Confused” being played as the second number was a feature of the spring tour and this is another very good version. The guitar solo is kept to a minimum however. Afterwards Plant says, “What am I doing? This is one from the second album. It’s about a mean woman, as they usually are.” “Heartbreaker” picks up and Plant sounds strangely subdued in this recording. Almost an hour of the set is skipped over and they get set to play “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Such is their love of the new song they skip playing well-known material from their latest album Led Zeppelin II. There is some commotion in the audience before the band can play and Plant says, “Don’t do that. Calm down. No frenzies. This group’s been renamed the ‘Box Of Tricks’.” It isn’t clear what he is talking about. It could be a reference to the new song or to the fact they changed the set list around so much?
At this point someone shouts out “Whole Lotta Love” to which Plant replies, “You know we get off on that every night but the thing is, it comes eventually.” The same guy, who is a big Yardbirds fan, shouts out “White Summer…White Summer” before the band begin a standard version of “What Is And What Should Never Be.” “Moby Dick” is only thirteen minutes long before Plant urges everybody to get loose. The “Whole Lotta Love” medley closes the set and is a compact fourteen minutes that includes the Hank Snow hit “I’m Moving On” but drops some of the regular inclusions from this tour like “Honey Bee”. “Communication Breakdown” opens with a riff that sounds similar to “Out On The Tiles” while Plant yells out “groove!” The review in the newspapers the following day pointed out that the second show was better than the first. The organ solo is singled out as being awful, and Plant stopped the show twice because of a man having a seizure and for a fight that broke out. Despite these distractions the review called this show superior to the early one.
I have all the silvers for this source with the exception of In Exotic “Honolulu” (Akashic AKA-24). To my ears the title reviewed above sounds very clean and is a excellent recording for 1970. This would be my first choice when I want to listen to this show.